The Inspiring Pastor behind 'Courageous' (Part 2)

This is a continuation of the Heart Choices Today post (September 21, 2011) ~ my conversation with Michael Catt, executive producer of the new film, Courageous.

I know that Vance Havner and Manley Beasley influenced your life; they were your mentors. Can men become courageous without having strong mentors.

Catt: Some can, but I think it is our responsibility to mentor. Paul said to Timothy: “Stir up the gift of God within you.” Paul didn’t tell Timothy, “Let God stir up the gift.” He said, “You stir up the gift; you’re responsible, son, for what you do with your life.”

I’m trying to do it [to mentor]. I’m trying to encourage other guys to do it. I’ve got some guys who have surrendered to the ministry out of Sherwood [Baptist Church] . We made a decision—they’re all guys who are just turning 30—and we made a decision last year that we’re going to spend a week together every year, just guys; and we’re going to talk about ministry and about life.

And I give them books. I just gave them a biography on Leonard Ravenhill. And I say, “When you get through, I want a report. I want to know you read it.” And so now—I’m watching them—they’re sending Leonard Ravenhill quotes out on Twitter. So I got the point across. But they’re learning to have some backbone and to take a stand.

Me: How do you encourage men to change the culture?

Catt: To me, the only way we’re going to change the culture is revival. I mean, really, unless God sweeps across this land, we’re not getting it. I’m preparing a series right now called “Control: God’s in Control, You’re Not.” And in my first message, I went through tornadoes, floods, wildfires, tsunamis, earthquakes, hurricanes—you can’t do one thing to stop that. So God’s trying to say, “I’m rolling across this land in judgment, and everyone’s saying, ‘What’s going on? What’s going on?’ And God says, “I’m going on. I’m trying to get your attention.” He could cripple us without ever having another terrorist attack.

Part of being courageous is standing up in this culture and saying, “You don’t get it.” Until we give our lives wholeheartedly to God, were not really going to get it, because mediocrity and average Christianity and a lukewarm church is not going to address this culture. That already has almost shut our doors.

I sent a Tweet out last month, and I was kind of just sitting in my recliner at home on a Saturday, and I thought, “Hmmm... I’ll just send a Tweet out: 'What if a thousand pastors would start calling churches to cleansing, repentance, and revival?'” Within 20 minutes, I had about 25 pastors that follow me on Twitter for some reason—must not have anything else to do—and they said, “I’m in.”

So I’ve got this whole group of guys—at least a dozen guys—and almost everything they’re sending out on Twitter is related to revival. And they’re starting to have prayer times in their churches for revival. There are guys in some significant, established churches that have high influence that, I mean (snaps fingers)—one of the first ones that said, “I’m in.” Because I think we all know we’re in trouble.

Me: How have you been most courageous, Michael? What has God done in your heart to make you a more courageous man?

Catt: The first moment I had a glimpse of what it meant to be courageous was with Vance Havner, at the invitation when I surrendered to the Lordship of Christ. And when I realized that I didn’t want to be a typical preacher. I had a conversation with Warren Wiersbe one day, and I said, “Warren, I don’t feel like I fit. I don’t like going to conventions. I don’t like the politics. I’m a square peg in a round hole.” And Warren said, “Michael, it’s because you’re a maverick. There’s something about you that doesn’t worry about what people think about you.” But he told me to go and study church history, and I did. You see, everybody that God has used was a maverick. Monuments are not built to conformists. They’re built to mavericks. They’re built to people who say, “Not on my watch.”

And I had to be courageous at Sherwood. We had two backdoor revivals where we lost hundreds of people. We had a lot of carnality.

Me: There's a price you pay for courage, isn't there?

Catt: There is. We never split; we never had a church fight; but I just drew some lines and said, “We’re not going to be a legalistic church—you know? That’s wearing a fa├žade of religion. We’re going to start stripping away legalism." Some people don’t want to deal with that, and they started to leave. And when we started talking about what it takes to reach out across racial lines and to build bridges, we lost people that didn’t want to cross those lines. And so it was Blessed Subtraction.

And I’ve got a lot of people in town that just won’t even talk to me. I’ve got pastors in town that won’t speak to me. I tell people I’ve got scars on my back, but you don’t want me to take my shirt off! Those first few years were tough, but I decided I could either run and uproot my family, or I could stay and fight the battle for what I believe and sense the truth ought to be....

[Photo to the left, L to R: Alex Kendrick, Jim McBride, Stephen Kendrick, and seated, Michael Catt]

... and so, in the last seven or eight years, we’ve seen a wind of revival in our church. We’ve had more people at the altar than we’ve ever had before. People who have come who are like-hearted—we’ve had people who come who drive from 30 communities around us, some who drive 45 minutes to an hour to come, and this is on country roads, not highways like in Dallas. They come because they sense that God is doing something. God is bringing us the people to do what He’s calling us to do.

In fact, many of the people in Fireproof weren’t even in the church when we made Facing the Giants. People who are in Courageous weren’t even in the church when we made Fireproof. And you know whether they're coming because they want to be in a movie. They didn’t come to church because of the movies; they came to church because God drew them. They’re very sensitive, and you can hear it in their voices and see it in their servant spirit.

Me: When we talk about revival, it seems that women are always leading the church, so I'm excited to see this reaching out to men.

Catt: We’re seeing more men coming to the altar. We’re seeing more men bringing their children and their young people with them to the altar. We’ve got about 100 men right now who every Tuesday morning, at 6:00 in the morning (from 6:00 to 8:00), are going through Master Life, just learning how to walk with God. Most of them are under 40. Because they want to make a difference.

I’m seeing a whole new generation. I mean, I’ve got people who’ve been in my prayer group for years and they’re weak and frail, but I see this new generation of 30 year olds and early 40s, and they’re coming in and saying, “We’re going to make a difference. We’re not going to drop the ball.”

Me: That is so encouraging. Thank you, Michael, for all that you are doing to point individuals and families back to the truth of the Word of God. Your films are a powerful tool, and I appreciate your spirit and what you are doing.


lynnmosher said...

Great interview, Dawn. Enjoyed it!

Dawn Wilson said...

Thanks, Lynn. I had a lot of fun interviewing Michael.